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New Jurassic Dinosaurs from the Gobi Desert of Western China

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The Gobi Desert of Asia is one of the most important field areas for dinosaur discovery in the world. Most of the well known localities are in the Cretaceous Period near the end of the Age of Dinosaurs, but a few are from the poorly known Middle Jurassic, when dinosaurs were first attaining their great size and ecological prominence. While best known for its dinosaurs, the Jurassic also witnessed the beginnings of the modern terrestrial vertebrate fauna of mammals, turtles, crocodilians, lizards, frogs and salamanders and the evolution of birds from dinosaurs.

Since 2001 Clark has been co-directing with Dr. Xu Xing field work in Middle – Late Jurassic fossil deposits of Xinjiang, China, in the far western part of the Gobi Desert. These extremely successful expeditions resulted in a host of discoveries, including the oldest tyrannosaur, alvarezsaur, and ceratopsian dinosaurs, multiple skeletons of a bizarre new herbivorous theropod dinosaur that had been mired in muddy “death pits”, and the oldest pterodactyloid pterosaur. Dr. Clark will give an overview of these expeditions and discuss the theropod dinosaur discoveries. Dr. Forster will discuss the ornithischian dinosaur discoveries in Xinjiang and those from her work in the Cretaceous of South Africa.

Dr. Clark studied paleontology at UC Berkeley and the University of Chicago and worked at UC Davis, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and the American Museum of Natural History before taking the Ronald Weintraub Professorship at GWU . He participated in the AMNH expeditions to the Gobi Desert of Mongolia from 1991-2001.

Dr. Forster studied geology and paleontology at the University of Minnesota and the University of Pennsylvania and was an Associate Professor at Stony Brook University before moving to GWU . She is a renowned expert on ceratopsian and ornithopod dinosaurs, and has pursued field work in Madagascar, South Africa, China, and throughout the USA . She is immediate past president of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.

This talk is part of the Sedgwick Club talks series.

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